Announcing Vermonters Feeding Vermonters
A new program to purchase local produce for Vermonters facing hunger
May 10th, 2018 – Killington, VT—Last week, the Vermont Foodbank unveiled Vermonters Feeding Vermonters, a brand new program that will purchase high quality fruits and vegetables directly from Vermont growers to distribute to Vermonters facing hunger. This announcement took place at the Foodbank’s annual Hunger Action Conference before a group of more than 300 attendees from the mission-driven and charitable food sectors there for a day of training regarding poverty and hunger, food systems, health, and best practices to help them alleviate hunger in their communities.
The program launch honored the pilot year farm partners and featured speeches from Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles, Paul Harlow of Harlow Farms, and Samara Bushey of program supporter Hannaford Supermarkets. “All of us at the Foodbank believe that every Vermonter deserves access to the fresh, local food that our state has in such abundance,” said Sayles. “The Foodbank has been working methodically over the years to increase the amount of food sourced locally, and Vermonters Feeding Vermonters is the perfect way to take that commitment to the next level and really invest in both the health of our neighbors struggling with hunger and the wellbeing of our local economy.”
In this pilot year, the Foodbank is partnering with 10 farmers and 2 distributors/food hubs from throughout Vermont to purchase and distribute 160,000 lbs. of produce. During the harvest season, farmers will provide regular deliveries to one of the Foodbank’s three branches, located in Rutland, Barre, and Brattleboro. Foodbank staff will then distribute the produce to Vermonters facing hunger through their existing channels, including their VeggieVanGo program, delivering healthy food directly to school and hospital communities, and through their 215 partner food shelves, meal sites, senior centers and after school programs.
“By purchasing food locally, we will be financially supporting the Vermont agricultural economy,” says Sayles. “Based on research conducted by the Center for Rural Studies at UVM, every dollar spent on locally produced food contributes an additional 60 cents to the Vermont economy. This means that the $130,000 we plan to spend on local produce during this pilot will multiply into $208,000 invested in Vermont’s economy.”
This pilot year is funded by generous donations from the Butler Family Foundation, the Still Point Fund, the Windham Foundation, the Bernard F. and Mary Ann Powell Foundation, Lisa Steele, and Hannaford Supermarkets.
“Hannaford has a longstanding history of supporting the Vermont Foodbank and is pleased to have a community partner who maintains our same commitment to hunger relief. We are thrilled to support the Vermonters Feeding Vermonters program and strongly believe in its mission to connect the high-quality, fresh products sourced from Vermont growers to those in need. We look forward to seeing the program grow and flourish under the direction of the Foodbank,” said Bushey.
This program arises from the Foodbank’s commitment to improving health for all Vermonters. “Food security and health are inextricably linked,” continues Sayles. “Many of our clients struggle with diet-related illness; 23% of households we serve have a member with diabetes and 46% have a member with high blood pressure. By meeting the needs of our neighbors with fresh, nutritious, local foods, we can help them achieve better health, lower health care bills, and a higher quality of life, all while helping to strengthen our local economy.”